Get Your Heating System Ready For Winter

Winter is coming even though it might not feel like it right now with the abnormally warm weather in many parts of the U.S.A. But, it is still coming and, even in Millbrook, AL, there will be cold weather and a need for heating equipment that is in good working order.

Everyone’s worst nightmare is a furnace that breaks down during the coldest day of the winter. If the furnace stops working at night or on a weekend, help might not be available right away. No heat will mean family discomfort and possible frozen or broken water pipes. Getting the home’s heating equipment serviced before the cold weather comes will prevent furnace breakdowns during the heating season.

Preparing the Home’s Furnace For Winter

It is tempting to ignore the home’s heating and Air conditioning systems until there are problems. In the fall, the homeowner turns on the furnace and expects it to work all winter. In the spring, the furnace is turned off and the air conditioning is turned on. Hopefully, the homeowner will change the filters as the systems are turned on and several times during the year. But, some people don’t even realize there are filters to change.

A home’s heating system is too important to neglect. A home’s furnace is expensive to replace, so it should be well-maintained so it lasts longer, saving the homeowner the thousands of dollars a new system will cost. Homeowners can take care of a number of furnace maintenance jobs such as:

  1. Checking and replacing air filters several times a year or as required.
  2. Keeping debris away from heating and cooling system equipment.
  3. Keeping all the registers in the home clean and unobstructed.
  4. Listening for out-of-place noises in the heating system. They can be caused by blockages of registers, vents with debris in them, or loose components.
  5. Calling in a professional for warranty work, maintenance, or repairs.

But, the homeowner who does not have the experience or interest in working on home appliances and equipment is better off calling in a reliable local heating and air conditioning service to inspect the heating and cooling equipment and perform any repairs or maintenance that may be required.

One good plan is to sign up for a yearly or semi-annual maintenance program at a reduced cost. The company will come to the home on a pre-arranged schedule to inspect, do maintenance, and turn on the heating system in the fall and the air conditioning in the spring. 

There Are Signs To Look for If You May Need Furnace Repair

If the heating season is coming and the homeowner suspects they might need furnace repair, it is time to call for service.

Some signs of trouble include:

-The furnace fails to start

-The thermostat does not seem to be working right

-The heating system is not heating the house adequately or seems to be working too hard

-The air coming out of the heating vents smells bad or appears dirty

-If the system has a pilot light, it is not working correctly

-The furnace is making troubling noises

-The heating or cooling system suddenly quits working

The longer a homeowner waits to get their furnace problem repaired, the worse it will get. A problem in the furnace that is not repaired can lead to the furnace breaking down and needing replacement sooner. The same is true of the air conditioning system.

Choosing a Furnace and Air Conditioning Repair Company

The time to contact an HVAC repair company is when the furnace and or air conditioning equipment is still running. When a family first moves into a home, they should have had a home inspection during the purchase process. This report should have let them know what condition the equipment in the home was in. If there was no home inspection, the homeowner should contact a local heating and air conditioning repair company such as AirNow Cooling & Heating to inspect all the heating and cooling equipment and do repairs and maintenance as needed.

Doing so will give the homeowner a fresh start with the equipment and an idea of when they might need to replace it. To find a local heating and cooling repair company, ask a local Realtor, the home inspector, or neighbors for recommendations. Look in the local papers, the phone book yellow pages, or local online rating sites for area contractors. Check each contractor out with the BBB and online rating sites. Ask for customer recommendations, and check out their company websites.

The goal is to find a dependable service company that will be able to work on your brand of equipment and install new equipment when the time comes. The contractor should have service plans available at special pricing. They should have emergency services available to their customers seven days a week and after hours. The best contractor will be prompt when repairs are needed, give you a cost estimate before work starts, and deliver quality service.

When Should A Homeowner Replace Their Heating and Air Conditioning Systems?

Considering furnace replacement can be a difficult situation. New systems are expensive to purchase and have installed. Where will the money come from? Can the old equipment be repaired to last another season to give the homeowner time to save up money? Calling on the local heating and cooling equipment service company for a consultation is the best way to begin. They will provide a cost/benefit analysis. If the old unit is going to cost a lot in repairs each season, it may be more practical to replace it.

That large, noisy furnace might be costing the family extra money by running inefficiently. A new furnace or combination heating and cooling system can save a homeowner up to 50% in operating costs compared to a furnace that is over 10 years old. This is because the furnaces manufactured before 1990 were allowed to have AFUE or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratings of 65% or lower, but the new units must have AFUE ratings of 80% or higher.

For families who do not have whole-house air conditioning, replacing the old furnace with a unit that both heats and cools the home can be a big bonus. The new units take up less space as well as being more efficient. Replace the furnace when these things are in play:

  1. The repair costs add up to more than one-third of the cost of a new unit.
  2. The furnace is over 15 years old or past three-quarters of its listed life expectancy. The average operating life of a furnace is 15 to 20 years. Check the unit for a manufacturing date. This life span depends on the unit’s quality and how well it has been maintained. 
  3. If the new furnace will be more efficient and save enough in heating costs each season to pay for itself in about five years, it may be time to switch. When energy costs go up every year, it may be time to replace the furnace.
  4. Check the furnace ducts to make sure they are not wasting heat. Get them sealed for added efficiency. You could be losing up to one-third of your heat to the attic, basement, or crawl space. The heating repair service can seal those ducts so the existing furnace does not have to work as hard.
  5. The home may waste energy rather than the furnace. Have a home energy audit to see where energy is being wasted. Some communities have reduced-cost or free audits available. This audit will find and recommend ways to stop energy losses by adding insulation and sealing leaks.
  6. The home has soot, dust, or rust near heat registers. This can be a sign of trouble.
  7. The old furnace is becoming noisier with sounds like rattling, humming, popping, or screeching and squealing.
  8. The furnace is not heating all the rooms evenly or is not heating the rooms to the temperature on the thermostat and seems to be working very hard.

What Are the Advantages of New Heating and Cooling Equipment?

New heating and cooling equipment takes up less space in the home and operates more efficiently to save the homeowner from high energy costs. The home will be more comfortable with modern heating and cooling equipment. New heating systems have variable speed settings that allow the equipment to regulate how quickly the temperature desired is reached, leading to quieter operation. The new heating equipment can also include air cooling capabilities for year-round comfort with one set of equipment. The new heating and cooling units have significantly longer lifespans.

Homeowners have choices in types of new heating and cooling equipment. These include:

– Furnaces fueled by gas and other fuels. Central or warm-air furnaces use gas, oil, or electricity to heat air that is then forced around the house through a system of ducts. These furnaces are often located in the basement or another central location in the home. They rely on gravity or forced air for heat circulation in the home.

– Zoned heating systems allow homeowners to have better control over the heat distribution in a home. Because unused rooms can be kept at a cooler temperature in the winter or higher temps in the summer, energy use can be lowered, saving the homeowner money. New installations may have programmable thermostats in each zone.

– Packaged heating or cooling units are single-unit systems that contain every technical component that will be needed in one casing. This equipment can include condensers, valves, compressors, and more equipment. They may be set up outside a home to save space, and they are very efficient. The kinds of packaged units include hybrid heat units, air conditioners, and heat pumps. These units being self-contained makes them easier to repair. The higher the system’s ratings, the more energy they tend to save.

– Electrical HVAC units are simple systems of cooling and heating exchangers that use water or refrigerant as their medium. Pumps are used to move the water to the exchangers.

– Reverse heating systems that combine heating and cooling functions. Another name for this system is the heat pump. This system collects ambient heat from the outside air and compresses it into hot air to be distributed throughout the home. In the summer they distribute cool air around the home.

– Ductless heating and mini-split heating systems are some of the most cost effective and also efficient heating systems to be found. They are made to use an indoor air handler and an outdoor air compressor. This heating system provides zoned heating areas, so different rooms can be kept at different temperatures. The systems are up to 50% more energy efficient than some standard electric heating units.

– Steam or hot water heating systems supply steam or hot water to radiators, heating coils, or other equipment to heat the home.

A homeowner can work with their trusted heating and cooling contractor to choose the system that is best for their house and the family’s needs. Costs will come into the picture here. Financing the new heating and cooling system will be a concern. There are different financing methods, including home improvement loans, refinancing a house to pull out the equity, and using credit cards that have higher limits. Some heating contractors have additional financing methods available for their customers with payment plans.